Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Volunteering in La Barra de Potosí

I'd "met" Laura through the Zihuatanejo internet message board. She's an American expat who, some 15 years ago, settled in the tiny seaside village of La Barra de Potosí, about 20 miles south of Zihuatanejo. There she started the town's first library and, working with the school teachers, has been developing interesting learning activities and programs for the kids.
Sally and I had been thinking of ways to be more than just tourists here, and felt there must be some way to help Laura, the teachers and their students. I'd exchanged a number of e-mails with her comparing notes about their needs and possible projects we could undertake with them.
The school and library, in conjunction with the Refugio de Potosí, a new wildlife rehabilitation center near the village, had been working with a young biologist from Mexico City to catalog and study the area's butterflies, so we decided this would be a great starting point and theme for anything Sally and I could offer. We decided on a mural.
Ana Luisa, the biologist, would provide the students with her photos of the butterflies. Each student would then pick his or her favorite and draw or paint it. Finally, we'd help them to superimpose line grids over their images and eventually to scale and transpose them to the wall chosen for the mural. I had designed an overall layout for the mural, as well as a title which I hope would capture a sense of ownership of the beautiful butterflies which the locals tend to take for granted.
Laura had also given us a "wish list" of school and office supplies they needed for the library, so, as we got ready for our trip from Minneapolis, we'd packed an additional duffel full of art paper, notebooks, colored markers, copy paper, scissors, Scotch tape and other essentials.
Monday, accompanied by my brother Dan and his wife Ruth Ann, we lugged the duffel over to the bus station here in Zihua. and grabbed the bus for Petatlán. We asked the driver to let us know when we reached the village of Los Achotes, little more than a dirt-road intersection and a few shops. After escaping the overly warm welcome of a drunk who came staggering out of a shop, we spotted the pasajero (a pickup truck with bench seating in back) and climbed aboard for the ten minute ride to La Barra.
Arriving at what looked like it must be the center of town, we hopped out and started down the hot, dusty main street. The mid-day sun baked us, reflecting up at us from the light tan dirt. Kids played, rolling car tires back and forth; women hung their wash out to dry in the dusty air; and typically good-natured dogs took note of us as they made their business-like rounds, marking each post and car tire.
After a few blocks without any kind of shade, we came to a thick stand of trees—bamboo, bougainvillea and several other kinds. And there was the sign, barely visible: Casa del Encanto, the bed and breakfast Laura owns and depends on for what little income she needs. Laura welcomed us warmly and introduced us to Ana Maria and Sonia and Bibi, the two young German women who help her in the library.
We got a quick tour of the B & B and then walked a block to the library where we inspected the wall where the mural is to be painted and then sat down to plan the project.
The next steps are for the students to make their paintings and for the wall to be scraped, sanded and primed in preparation for the mural. Then Sally and I will return next week and begin the process of gridding both the images and the wall. I may also begin to outline a few of the blown-up butterflies to give the kids the idea. I will also letter the title, as this would be hard for kids to do themselves. Laura has invited us to stay with her at her B & B so we can work in the evening and morning hours and avoid the brutal mid-day heat.
As with most creative endeavors, especially when they involve kids, we can't be sure where the process will take us, but we've already found it rewarding, and look forward to seeing the final result, whatever it might be.

1 comment:

El Perseguidor said...

¡Excelente! Creo que toda la experiencia de la creación del mural en la Barra de Potosí va a ser inolvidable. Casi no puedo esperar para ver los primeros avances y desde luego el resultado final.